Joanna Buttercase

Grayson Perry at Temple Newsam House

EVEN THOUGH HE IS NOT A FILMMAKER I have always really loved Grayson Perrys work.


I find it very accessible in terms of its meaning, and I find him to be a very unassuming and down to earth artist.

The themes explored in his work are some which I think resonate with most people ; consumerism being a main one I’ve noticed.


Sometime between first and second year (Im not sure when exactly) Channel 4 aired his programme on class.

Grayson Perry travelled around the UK and spent a few days in areas considered to be working/middle/upper class.

Something that was really interesting to me was that despite the demonisation we often see in the media of the working class, I personally seemed to find that Grayson Perry not only seemed to be most comfortable when spending time with this social group, he also seemed to be able to pint down more precisely what the particulars were in the flaws of the middle class. Although, coming from a middle class background myself, this could just be that I was able to relate to those most closely from a first hand experience, and identify with all the nuances he was picking out. These included Cath Kinston bags, dinner parties, Jamie Oliver obsession, and a need to display wealth in way which was “subtle and understated” yet decidedly obvious.


Perry made 2 tapestries about each group, and noted the fact that they were traditionally used to display historic stories and to glorify particular figures within society. He based the series around a set of historic artworks which follow the life of one particular man. He echoed not only this concept but also certain details within the composition, all of which he talks about in detail on the show.


I had actually forgotten about a lot of the context when I went to visit Temple Newsam House to see the tapestries on display. My favourite thing about Grayson Perrys work is the way he juxtaposes very traditional mediums (pottery, tapestries) with his own observations on the modern world, and I love the contrast this creates.

This to me made the pieces being on show in Temple Newsam seem particularly fitting.


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Beccy and I managed to sneak a few pictures undetected before we heard the invigilator telling off a man next to us for doing the same, but the setting was almost as impressive as the tapestries themselves. The colours were amazingly vivid and it was amazing how much you could continually notice whilst looking at them, and how well Grayson Perry had managed to imbue each one with particular iconography of that specific class.

I liked the fact that we were not seeing the pieces in some white walled stuffy art gallery, but were in an old house full of history with huge windows everywhere looking out onto amazing scenery. It made for a much more immersive and enjoyable experience for me.


(Above: Me enjoying a pile of leaves)



– Displaying work in a setting which compliments and enriches it

– I want to carry on visiting unusual areas of Leeds; I’d never been to Temple Newsam House before and it was gorgeous.

– Get back into looking at all visual practitioners; anything can be a potential source of inspiration, doesn’t have to be moving image!

– Using a medium which either directly or indirectly corresponds in some way with the messages I want my work to convey

(e.g. Lenses, cameras, old and new technology, style of editing which reflects or enhances what I’m trying to say)


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This entry was posted on November 4, 2014 by in Research, Year 3 PPP.
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